At least 12 bodies, 50 fetuses found inside Pocatello funeral home

Investigators began to move bodies to other local funeral homes on Sept. 3. Pocatello police officers discovered multiple unrefrigerated bodies in various states of decomposition, including some that were badly decomposed.

Investigators began to move bodies to other local funeral homes on Sept. 3. Pocatello police officers discovered multiple unrefrigerated bodies in various states of decomposition, including some that were badly decomposed. (Eric Grossearth, EastIdahoNews.com)



POCATELLO, Idaho — Police have positively identified five bodies found at Downard Funeral Home, are working to identify seven others and the remains of approximately 50 fetuses have been turned over to the Ada County Coroner.

The Pocatello Police Department said Monday it is working with a local funeral home and the Bannock County Coroner's Office to contact family members of the deceased.

"At this time, detectives believe that decedents who were scheduled to be buried were buried, and the unidentified individuals that were found had been scheduled for cremation," a news release says. "The remains of approximately 50 fetuses found at the scene are now in the custody of the Ada County Coroner for further investigation. Detectives are awaiting the results from the Ada County Coroner's investigation to determine the exact number of fetuses.

Police have received hundreds of tips and requests for information since news broke Friday that multiple decomposing bodies and fetuses were found inside Downard Funeral Home. The business was previously in charge of donating cadavers to Idaho State University for scientific study but the relationship ended last year after the university had stopped receiving donations for a period of time.

So far, no one has been arrested in connection with this case.

"We know there are a lot of unanswered questions about the case," Pocatello Police Chief Roger Schei said in a news release. "Our department has those same questions. I want to assure the families involved and the public that the men and women of the Pocatello Police Department will be working hard to provide the answers."

The Downard Funeral Home is owned by Pocatello resident Lance Peck and his wife. Peck has a history of licensing violations, which are detailed here.

Additionally, Downard Funeral Home was previously in charge of donating cadavers to Idaho State University for scientific study. This relationship ended last year, though, after the university did not receive donations for a period of time.

In the process of ending the relationship, the university discovered some families believed the remains of their loved ones had already been donated. However, the university had no record of ever receiving those bodies.

Following an internal audit of all records and dealings with Downard, which "indicated multiple causes for concern," ISU filed formal complaints with the Bannock County Prosecutor's Office, Pocatello police and Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses.

The audit was launched in the fall of 2020 and complaints were filed this spring.

Crews from Pocatello Fire and EMS arrived at Downard on the night of Sept. 2 following reports of a foul stench emanating from the building. Pocatello police officers served a search warrant the next morning and began methodically removing bodies from inside the facility to a refrigerated trailer provided by the Ada County Coroner's Office.

Pocatello police confirm some of the bodies found inside the funeral home have been positively identified and moved to other local funeral homes, who are attempting to contact next of kin.

Bodies that have not been identified have been removed from the building and are now in the custody of the Bannock County Coroner. Officers will continue attempting to identify the remaining deceased.

To help expedite the funeral home investigation, the Pocatello Police Department is asking concerned citizens to report questions and tips at this website: https://reportacrime.pocatello.us. Scroll down and click on "Information or Documentation Only Report" then complete the required form.

Nate Sunderland

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